Happy New Year everyone!!!!!
May 2011 shower you with good fortune.
For me, 2011 will hence forth be known as ‘The Year of the Great Agent Safari.’
Zane is written, revised and re-revised up through chapter 17.
I have three chapters left to hammer into complete submission, and then I will spend a couple of weeks tinkering, polishing and trimming. Right now I am at 107K, but there are plenty of words to shed, and I’ll be able to trim it back to 100K fairly easily.
I have a query letter and synopsis ready to go and I will start querying select agents toward the end of January. I was hoping to have the book completely finished and ready for submission back in October or November and I might have made that deadline if I hadn’t decided to deepen the villain’s characterization. To do this, I ended up going back in and complicating the plot. This necessitated adding several scenes, as well as going into existing scenes and layering the new plot points through. It was a lot more work than I expected, but adds an additional layer of depth and tension. All told, when this project goes out on submissions, it will be close to eleven months since I’d sat down and wrote that first scene.
Back last fall I tossed Zane out on the contest circuit. I had three goals in mind when I did this. I wanted to final so I would have some credits for my query, and I was hoping for some agent/editor requests.
But I also needed feedback on a particular element in the manuscript—specifically the sensuality to suspense ratio and how the two were tied together. I knew from CPs/Beta readers that while everyone agreed the chapters were hot and the hero sexy, some readers had concerns with how I tied the heat and action together. Their concern was valid and I shared it to a certain extent. At that point it was running about 60% for how the sensuality was filtered through and about 40% against. There was no middle ground on this element, people either loved it or hated it. After five contests and twelve new sets of eyes it’s now riding at about 70% for 30% against.
However, another problem with the manuscript showed up through contest feedback, and this was an issue I hadn't been aware of. Quite a few judges mentioned they didn't get pulled into the story until the second page. So I revamped the opening off contest feedback. I hope it solves that slow opening.
Of the five contests I dumped Zane into, it finaled in two, came within a point of finaling in another, and came within three points of finaling in a fourth. It took first place in the romantic suspense category in the Launching a Star contest and I got a really cool engraved metal paperweight shaped like a star. Final ranking for The Linda Howard Award of Excellence hasn't been announced yet.
A couple things I have discovered about the new contest circuit since I started entering Zane.
Everyone has gone to electronic entries and paying through pay pal. In some ways this really simplifies things and saves money. No more postage! No more printing out x-amount of copies. On the down side, in all but one of the contests, when the judges received my entry it had severe formatting issues. Formatting issues that hadn’t been there when I sent. I know for a fact the wonky formatting cost me a final in one contest.
Other things I discovered while on the contest circuit.
Swearing is much more accepted then it was the last time I had a manuscript out on the circuit. Only one judge even mentioned the swearing in Zane, and she didn’t take any points off for it.
I do best in contests where one of the scores is dropped, and where there are five finalists. (Surprise! Not! LOL) I’m not sure I would have finaled in The Launching a Star contest if there hadn’t been five finalists. I wouldn't have finaled in the Linda Howard AOE if they hadn't dropped the one score. (Although it would have been very close) On the same boat, if two of the contests I didn’t final in had had five finalists, I’m pretty sure the entry would have finaled.
So, for 2011, I’ll be looking at entering Zane in contests with 5 finalists. I’m also going to try it in the paranormal category, since from what I'm seeing the Romantic Suspense category never gets any requests. I’ve already entered the new and improved first chapter in the paranormal category of The Great Expectations. This is a test, because while the plot rests on ESP, the suspense is much stronger than the paranormal element. We’ll see how it does.
In 2010, I trained myself to write every day, by getting up at 4:00 am and getting 2.5 hours of writing in before work.
This year I will be getting up a half an hour earlier, and writing for three hours. I am also going to make 2011 the year of building a presence on the web. In addition to the writing (which will always come first) I will be concentrating on blogging & I'm going to launch a website.
I'm really looking forward to 2011. I have this over whelming feeling of optimism. I think 2011 is going to be a great year for me.